1948 Lister CS diesel engine saved and running again!

Posted by Chris Graham on 30th May 2023

Alan C Cullen reports on a 1948 Lister CS diesel engine that’s finally found a new home and is back in running order, too.

1948 Lister CS diesel

1948 Lister CS diesel: Neil Harris is seen here with the engine.

There are times when you don’t always need to answer an email, but then one appears that looks to be OK to open, read and act upon. This happened to us as a club, with regards to a 3½ hp Lister CS diesel of 1948 vintage.

The engine, serial number CS65332, had had a fairly nomadic existence for some considerable years. Once it was involved with the windmill fraternity, the initial idea being that it might be powerful enough to drive a windmill when wind was non-existent. However, this didn’t work out as planned at High Salvington Mill, near Worthing, so it was moved to Jill Mill on the South Downs, above Brighton.

How long it was there I have not been able to establish, but I know that it was dry-stored at the Oldland Windmill, which is close to Keymer, in Sussex. The volunteers set about making a special sized pulley to drive the mill but, unfortunately, as before, that didn’t work as hoped, so the engine was moved back to its storage garage for a further five years or so. 

The Lister CS – serial number CS65332 – dating from 1948.

Sadly, the garage owner then needed to start using the garage space so, once again, the engine needed to find a new home. Peter Hill, the former chairman of The Sussex Mills Group suggested contacting the Sussex & Kent Weald Stationary Engine Group, via Alan and Lynne Cullen. So the project to find someone to become the next caretaker of the Lister CS diesel was passed to us. It was to be loved, shown at as many events as possible, and not to be sold on. 

It was offered to several members but some didn’t care for a diesel, while others said space was the problem. Then, as readers of our club’s journal will know, our vice-chairman, Neil Harris – who runs the private ‘Harris’s Yard’ – offered to help and a new home was found. He understood the conditions and accepted them. 

Next came the collection of the engine. Neil, Lynne and I had a spare weekend that fitted in with the chairman and several others of the volunteers of Oldland Mill, and suitable transport was organised. The engine was safely loaded and secured, ready for the journey back to Surrey. While the team enjoyed a private, guided tour of the mill, I spent the time discussing an engine display that we could arrange for later in the season, in the shadows of the recently-restored mill.

I’m sure that the Lister will be the star attraction when it appears at Oldland Mill during the year.

Incidentally, once the stationary engine returned to the Surrey yard, Neil and his son, Max, had a fettle and, within an hour or so, had it running sweetly. It had a change of lubrication, was cleaned, tided-up and was ready for the first of the group’s events, which is held annually as close to Valentine’s Day as possible, at the Best of Britain Garden Centre in Paddock Wood, Kent. 

Neil was offered some advice from owners of diesel engines, and the machine was duly admired by the members attending the event as well as interested customers at the centre. No doubt the engine will be the ‘Star of the show’ when we return later in the season at Oldland Mill.

This feature comes from a recent issue of Stationary Engine, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE


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